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Mobile network infrastructure consists of three high level elements: User Equipment, the Radio Access Network, and a Mobile Core Network.
- User Equipment (“UE”): Devices used by End Users (e.g., mobile phones) to connect to the RAN in order to send / receive data and voice communications.
- Radio Access Network (“RAN”): The network of radio base stations that connect UEs to the Mobile Core network, voice services, the open internet, etc. Radio base stations generally require a high speed backhaul connection to route data from the base station to the operator’s network / Mobile Core / internet. Pollen’s RAN will be a combination of Flowers and roaming on third-party radios.
- Mobile Core: The Mobile Core is the heart of a wireless network and consists of a complex set of services that include the handling of user data metering, user validation and authentication, radio management, and voice and data services. Pollen was originally built on the open-source Magma core, but is now migrating to a commercially available core in order to provide the functionality (e.g., handoffs, voice), reliability, security, and interoperability necessary to build a reliable and commercially viable mobile network.
Key components of the Pollen network include:
- Hummingbirds (UE): Devices used for communications (e.g., mobile phones) capable of connecting to Flowers utilizing a SIM that maintains user privacy.
- Honeybees (UE): Devices utilizing a SIM that reports user location information and is therefore capable of becoming a Validator, e.g., via using the Pollen Honeybee mobile application.
- Bumblebees (UE): Pollen-designed devices that verify network coverage and report statistics back to the Pollen network via Flowers.
- Owls (UE): Owls are Customer Premises Equipment (“CPE”) that are used to connect to a Flower and provide fixed wireless internet service at a location (e.g., a home, cafe, office), typically by re-broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal, or by being connected to a Wi-Fi router.
- eNodeB: An eNodeB is an LTE radio that operates on the CBRS spectrum (3.55 - 3.70 GHz) to communicate with UE / mobile devices. The eNodeB is connected to/ incorporates a GPS receiver used to determine geographic positioning (a requirement of utilizing CBRS). For 5G service, this device is called a gNodeB, which Pollen expects to support in the future.
- Access Gateway (“AGW”): The AGW is a small computer that runs a reduced instance of the Mobile Core. Pollen has moved away from utilizing AGWs by default by migrating to the Greenhouse cloud infrastructure, but AGWs will still be utilized for various purposes, such as enabling a hybrid public / private network.
- Greenhouse: Greenhouse is Pollen’s cloud-based Mobile Core infrastructure. After initially utilizing an infrastructure that relied upon a local AGW, Pollen migrated to Greenhouse to eliminate the need for the AGW and enable a “plug and play” user deployment experience.
- Router / Internet Access Point: Flower owners need to provide internet connectivity to the Flower (in addition to electricity).
- Internet Egress Point: The point at which data is delivered to / received from the open internet.
- Internet Egress Privacy Service (“IEPS”): A Pollen-provided service that further encrypts communications and moves the Internet Egress Point from the ISP to the IEPS provider, preventing any actor from intercepting data or running network data analyses. Pollen utilizes WireGuard and IPsec to provide the IEPS.
- Identity Provider: The Identity Provider is the entity that produces the SIMs. We anticipate having multiple Identity Providers in order to avoid reliance on any single third party.